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Remarks by the President and Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs

Press Conference

Location: Washington, DC

MR. GIBBS: You should brief today. (Laughter.)

Q We got a one and one. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: All right. Well, listen, obviously Gibbs's departure is not the biggest one today. (Laughter.) Having said that, I thought I should come into the briefing room just to say a few words about my departing press secretary.

As some of you know, Robert started very early with me on this wild ride that I've been on. I had run for the United States Senate. I was not expected to win. When I won the Democratic primary in Illinois, I realized that I was going to have to start staffing up a little bit; at the time I only had I think six or seven people working for me. And I still didn't have a lot of money, so all I could afford was Gibbs. (Laughter.)

And so Robert came to work with me and we had what appeared to be a pretty significant general election, and then Alan Keyes came in and so that ended up not being our primary focus. We then had this incredible opportunity to speak at the national convention in Boston. And I know that a lot of you think that probably most attention was devoted to the speech that I delivered, the keynote speech in Boston, but in fact actually the most challenging problem was what tie to wear.

And this went up to the very last minute. I mean, 10 minutes before we were about to go on stage, we were still having an argument about ties. I had bought five, six ties. And Michelle didn't like any of them. Axelrod didn't like a couple of them -- him being, you know, one of the best dressed men in the world. (Laughter.) So we really valued his opinion. (Laughter.)

And then somebody -- I don't remember who it was -- turned and said, you know what, what about Gibbs's tie? What about Gibbs's tie? That might look good. And frankly, Robert didn't want to give it up because he thought he looked really good in the tie, but eventually he was willing to take one for the gipper. And so he took off his tie and I put it on. And that's the tie that I wore at the national convention.

He has not said about -- anything about this tie all these years. But I have to tell you that I know there's a simmering resentment -- (laughter) -- that he never got it back. And so as a consequence, I wanted here today -- I wanted this on the record, on camera -- (laughter) -- that I am finally returning Robert's tie. And if he chooses to break the glass, he can. (Laughter.)

But this is going to be a reminder to me that Robert has not only been an extraordinary press secretary, but he has been a great friend. And you could not ask for somebody better in the foxhole with you during all the twists and turns of my candidacy and then the incredible challenges that we faced over the last two years.

So I'm so proud of him, and everybody here loves Robert. He's going to be working closely with us. I don't think we could have a better press secretary. I think Jay is going to do an outstanding job of filling Robert's shoes. But I certainly couldn't have a better friend at the podium each and every day. So I just wanted to say congratulations, Robert. (Applause.)

Q Did you sign?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I didn't actually --

Q What's it say?

THE PRESIDENT: I didn't actually sign the tie, because as I said, he may decide he wants to wear it. It just said I thought that I should finally give you your tie back. It and you helped me get started. All right. Thank you, brother.

MR. GIBBS: Thank you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: You notice, by the way, that he bought one just like it. (Laughter.)

MR. GIBBS: I like that tie.


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